Blood pressure monitor: which one to buy?

Blood pressure monitors come in a variety of shapes and sizes. So how can you be sure you got the best blood pressure monitor for your money? Read on and find out how!

In the next few chapters I’ll try and separate the good from the bad and the beautiful from the ugly in the world of blood pressure monitors. Amongst sphygmomanometers, another, more scientific name for blood pressure gauges, there is a wide variety. Depending on what and where you intend to use your monitor, your choices will be largely based on whether you want an alaog or a digital device.

Digital Blood pressure meters

Let’s start off with the best digital blood pressure meter out there today:

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The automatic digital upper arm cuff blood pressure monitor from Vive Precision. Please note that Vive Precision is not paying me to advertise their products on my website. If they would I wouldn’t be spending my time writing this detailed guide for you, believe me!

Vive Precision is known for their accuracy and detail eye for quality. Each and every blood pressure monitor is individually tested for accuracy. This helps ensure you that the reading you get is your actual blood pressure. No need to doubt the result!

The large and bright display is there to make sure you have no trouble reading the result off the screen. Due to the backlight you can now also effortlessly take your measurements at night or just when you wake up! No need to switch on those lights that early in the morning.

The main reason why to my opinion this is the best blood pressure monitor out there is the fact that you get a full 2-year guarantee with this device. Also everything is included right from the get-go. You get a one-size-fits-all cuff, 4 AAA batteries and an illustrated user’s manual. The second you unbox this beauty you are good to go! and retailing at less than $50 this is a must-have device to have in your home.

Follow this link to check it out for yourself on Amazon!

So are there no downsides to this device?

Actually… There are. Some people have reported great inaccuracies with their device when operating it straight out of the box. Sometimes the devices are wrongly calibrated leaving the factory and this can result in faulty readings. Usually you notice by the fact that your blood pressure, according to the monitor, would be sky-high.

If this is the case with your blood pressure monitor, please do the following:

First of all, remove the batteries. Replace them and go through the steps for setting the unit exactly as is told in the instructions manual. This will enable you to reset the device. Pay attention that when you get to page 8 in the instructions manual, you repeat step 2 and 3 to calibrate the unit.

If you did this as explained above, take a reading again and it will be your correct blood pressure!

 

Another good, slightly more expensive blood pressure monitor is the Omron 10 series wireless upper arm blood pressure monitor.

 

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What’s so good about this one?

In addition to the big digital screen comparable to the Vive Precision, the Omron blood pressure monitor allows you to store the last 200 measurements. For more than one person even! As a result you can now fully track how your blood pressure develops. Does that new diet really work? Should I actually eat MORE sodium than before? These questions will now remain answered as you track the development of your blood pressure.

The cuff is however not as versatile as the Vive Precision. This one fits arms with a circumference between 9 and 17 inches. So if you are petite this might not be the best blood pressure monitor for you.

Another possible drag with this blood pressure monitor is that you need to set the time and date before every reading. As a result it is quite cumbersome to get it done as there are a few extra steps that need to be taken. However this is in your benefit thought as increased tracking helps provide more accurate readings.

For example the Omron 10 series offers you the possibility to get average readings. If you take 3 readings within 10 minutes this blood pressure meter will give you the running average of those 3 readings. As a result you get a much more accurate read-out!

Please note that unfortunately the Bluetooth pairing with smartphones only works if your phone is an iPhone. For Android phones the Bluetooth pairing will NOT work!

 

Best analog blood pressure monitors

The real McCoy however are the analog blood pressure monitors. However they need to be paired up with a stethoscope if you want to work with them. In the previous link I made a list for you with the best stethoscope and best analog sphygmomanometer.

My choice for analog blood pressure monitor is the MDF Calibra Aneroid sphygmomanometer. Not only is it one of the most reviewed blood pressure meters on Amazon, it boasts the best reviews as well.

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MDF offers you a 3 year warranty on this gauge. Also make sure to check out for special promo’s where you can get a free stethoscope with your purchase. Find out more about these promotions on this page. They offer good stethoscopes too and I wrote a review on some of them here.

This blood pressure meter is latex-free yet stick and crack-resistant. Should any of the tubing crack then note that this device has a 3-year warranty as mentioned above. Or read here on how to prevent tubing from cracking.

Each and every device is stress tested 3000 times and calibrated 5 times.

 

How to use a blood pressure monitor

Before you can even start you need to take care of a few things.

  1. Many things can cause a temporary rise in your blood pressure and as a result give you a false reading. As such make sure you haven’t eaten a big meal at least 30 minutes before taking a reading, or that it has been a long time since your last cup of coffee. Also measure your blood pressure some time after you have last gone to the toilet!
  2. Make sure you always use the same arm when you measure your blood pressure. If possible try and remember the arm your doctor or nurse uses and use that same one at home.
  3. Before taking your blood pressure try and rest for at least 5 minutes. Sit upright in a comfortable position at a table, with your feet firmly on the ground and your arms resting on the table in front of you.
  4. The cuff around your arm needs to be roughly at the same level as your heart in order to get really accurate readings. So make sure that you have a pillow or cushion ready to give your arm some extra support. Don’t hold up your arm as the exertion might cause your blood pressure to spike!

Next it is time to measure your blood pressure.

Digital devices

Digital blood pressure monitors are the best blood pressure monitor to use at home. As long as you follow the instructions provided with your device such as making sure the tubing points up and is aligned along the visible arteries in your arm.

However analog meters come with a bit of a challenge. What you need is a stethoscope. You’ll be listening to so-called Korotkoff sounds. See the video below for a full how-to in measuring BP!

 

I hope you have found this guide useful! Let me know in the comment section below if I have missed the mark completely or if there is something more you’d like me to add!

Vintage stethoscope – Which one is Your favorite?

I’m sure some people reading this article have fond memories of their doctor. However that image isn’t complete without a vintage stethoscope swung around their neck.

Vintage stethoscopes generally stand out from their modern counterparts in design. Depending on how far back you want to go, you can have stethoscopes that have no tubing whatsoever! Others date back from before there was an official bell-type chestpiece.

1870’s style Ford stethoscope

A lot of innovation in the medical field was done in the early Americas of the late 19th century. W.F. Ford had several patents regarding stethoscopes. It was he who helped develop the bi-aural stethoscope that we have come to know today. However a big issue they were facing back then was how to keep the tension right in the tubing. Therefore he came up with a quick fix and added a spring in the middle.

Nowadays Labtron makes stethoscopes in his honor. Although they have forgone the spring system in the middle the bell still hints back to the old-days. See for yourself in the pictures below:

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They are currently selling on Amazon for less than $20. So if you are on the lookout for a vintage stethoscope in a Ford-style, here’s your chance!

Vintage 1940’s obstetrician’s stethoscope

This particular vintage obstetrician stethoscope, which is also known as a fetal stethoscope, was made over 70 years ago in Ukraine. It is currently stored in a Ukranian military medical warehouse. As it has to come overseas it might take a while before the item reaches you so keep this in mind when you order!

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According to the seller this is a unique piece so supply is extremely limited!

Lastly we’ll feature the grandfather of all stethoscopes.

Vintage Sprague Rappaport stethoscope

We’re still in the 1940’s. It was then that Sprague and Rappaport set out to make a better version of the stiff stethoscopes they had grown accustomed to. Together they aid down the golden standard for what was to become the standard stethoscope everyone has come to know and love. Ultimately Hewlett and Packard ended up manufacturing their stethoscopes. They are now in direct competition with 3M who manufactures the Littmann series stethoscopes.

Below is a kit on Amazon I found that sells everything a beginning doctor-to-be needs in his or her kit!
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This set features a vintage stethoscope combined with a Sphygmomanometer, which is a blood pressure gauge and -cuff, and a carrying bag.

Thinklabs electronic stethoscope

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Stethoscopes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. However not all sizes fit everybody. If you have hearing aids for example you might find that a traditional stethoscope can be tricky to use. Here’s where Thinklabs electronic stethoscope comes in.

If you have trouble hearing and are looking for a solution to better perform auscultations then The One Digital Stethoscope fills the bill perfectly. The superb quality of the ear buds that come with this stethoscope work perfectly with hearing aids. The quality and clarity of the heart and breath sounds are amazing.

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Thinklabs headphones have an extra long cable so you can wear them comfortably around your neck when not in use. The anti-tangle flat cable is strong and resists tangling for convenient use in clinical settings.

 The eartips come in 3 sizes, for a perfect fit.

 

Thinklabs headphones

The thinklabs electronic stethoscope is compatible with a variety of headphones that each add their own uniqueness to this product. Due to the fact that everything works on a digital basis you can use different headphones for different results.

 

 

Beats by dr Dre for example are designed to cope with extra bass. As a result these headphones lend themselves perfectly for auscultations. The extra bass provided by the headphones can lay bare any underlying heart murmurs that might be present. At the same time these headphones offer excellent frequency response.

 

Lest not forget we still have to discuss the powerhouse of headphones. The noise-cancelling headphones Bose provides have become the standard of headphones all around the world. With these on your head you will have no trouble doing auscultations on an uncooperative toddler for example. Yo uwill be able to work in peace and hear the sounds you need to hear in all clarity!

Teaching with the One electronic stethoscope

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the thinklabs electronic stethoscope is the fact that it is a digital stethoscope. This enables you to split the audio signal into as many channels as you have splitters available! Now your students can listen in and focus on what they need to hear as you guide them through their very first auscultations.

Thanks to a variety of apps and add-ons Thinklabs provides, you can actually visualize wave-forms. Meaning your students can then visually begin to dissect the signals they hear. As a result various anomalies that come up during an auscultation can be dissected into great detail. This is all to the benefit of the students!